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Published: 2006/02/17
by Joe Doherty

Blue State Liberal – Pat Scanlon

CD Freedom 1054
Banjo picker Pat Scanlons rallying cry for progressive folks on his third record, Blue State Liberal, is a sunny, call to action for birds of that feather. It just arrived a year too late.
On the discs opening statement, Blue State Liberal, Scanlon waxes about losing the big one and sings in an oh-so-merry way about pollution, nuclear waste and jobless factory workers.
Where was this 15 months ago?
Scanlon, whos part-ex-hippie/part-new-ager/and part-environmentalist, did try to convene change around election time in 2004 (even starting the Recycled Poster Project, mannn). He does, unfortunately, still fall short with his message. The underpinnings of Liberals batch o tunes should light a fire under the listeners ass; instead, theyre presented in a blisteringly painful hippy-dippy way. And its not as if theyre not up to date — they just belong to a Sunday school audience.
At points when one tunes the lyrics out for a moment Scanlons banjo twangs nicely over a smile-stretching acoustic backdrop. Then hell spout ultra-corny lines like: Then the phone rings, you know its a funny thing/How a friend can brighten up most any day on the appropriately titled, Let Your Friends Know You Love Them.
This pattern continues throughout the albums 12-song throng.
Scanlon, a Vietnam-vet, should know by now, at least that singing happy-go-lucky songs arent going to change the world.
People tried that already.
Even some of the best-known contemporary musicians couldnt pull it off (remember the Vote for Change tour?). If Dave Matthews and Pearl Jam missed the mark, Scanlons reading of change-invoking bluegrass ditties are most likely doomed for failure even if they would have arrived on time.

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